Part 4 out of 7
Presently Jones leaned over the verge with my lasso.
"There," he said, "I've roped one of his hind legs. Now we'll pull him
up a little, then we'll fasten this rope, and pull on the other."
So, foot by foot, we worked the heavy lion up over the wall. He
must have been dead, though his sides heaved. Don sniffed at him in
disdain. Moze, dusty and bloody, with a large strip of hide hanging
from his flank, came up growling low and deep, and gave the lion a
last vengeful bite.
"We've been fools," observed Jones, meditatively. "The excitement of
the game made us lose our wits. I'll never rope another lion."
I said nothing. While Moze licked his bloody leg and Don lay with his
fine head on my knees, Jones began to skin old Sultan. Once more the
strange, infinite silence enfolded the canyon. The far-off golden
walls glistened in the sun; farther down, the purple clefts smoked.
The many-hued peaks and mesas, aloof from each other, rose out of the
depths. It was a grand and gloomy scene of ruin where every glistening
descent of rock was but a page of earth's history.
It brought to my mind a faint appreciation of what time really meant;
it spoke of an age of former men; it showed me the lonesome crags
of eagles, and the cliff lairs of lions; and it taught mutely,
eloquently, a lesson of life--that men are still savage, still driven
by a spirit to roam, to hunt, and to slay.
The start of a camping trip, the getting a big outfit together and
packed, and on the move, is always a difficult and laborsome job.
Nevertheless, for me the preparation and the actual getting under way
have always been matters of thrilling interest. This start of my hunt
in Arizona, September 24, 1918, was particularly momentous because I
had brought my boy Romer with me for his first trip into the wilds.
It may be that the boy was too young for such an undertaking. His
mother feared he would be injured; his teachers presaged his utter
ruin; his old nurse, with whom he waged war until he was free of her,
averred that the best it could do for him would be to show what kind
of stuff he was made of. His uncle R.C. was stoutly in favor of taking
him. I believe the balance fell in Romer's favor when I remembered
my own boyhood. As a youngster of three I had babbled of "bars an'
buffers," and woven fantastic and marvelous tales of fiction about my
imagined adventures--a habit, alas! I have never yet outgrown.
Anyway we only made six miles' travel on this September twenty-fourth,
and Romer was with us.
Indeed he was omnipresent. His keen, eager joy communicated itself to
me. Once he rode up alongside me and said: "Dad, this's great, but I'd
rather do like Buck Duane." The boy had read all of my books, in spite
of parents and teachers, and he knew them by heart, and invariably
liked the outlaws and gunmen best of all.
We made camp at sunset, with a flare of gold along the west, and the
Peaks rising rosy and clear to the north. We camped in a cut-over pine
forest, where stumps and lopped tops and burned deadfalls made an
aspect of blackened desolation. From a distance, however, the scene
was superb. At sunset there was a faint wind which soon died away.
My old guide on so many trips across the Painted Desert was in charge
of the outfit. He was a wiry, gray, old pioneer, over seventy years,
hollow-cheeked and bronzed, with blue-gray eyes still keen with fire.
He was no longer robust, but he was tireless and willing. When he told
a story he always began: "In the early days--" His son Lee had charge
of the horses of which we had fourteen, two teams and ten saddle
horses. Lee was a typical westerner of many occupations--cowboy,
rider, rancher, cattleman. He was small, thin, supple, quick, tough
and strong. He had a bronzed face, always chapped, a hooked nose,
gray-blue eyes like his father's, sharp and keen.
Lee had engaged the only man he could find for a cook--Joe Isbel, a
tall, lithe cowboy, straight as an Indian, with powerful shoulders,
round limbs, and slender waist, and Isbel was what the westerners
called a broncho-buster. He was a prize-winning rider at all
the rodeos. Indeed, his seat in the saddle was individual and
incomparable. He had a rough red-blue face, hard and rugged, like the
rocks he rode over so fearlessly, and his eyes were bright hazel,
steady and hard. Isbel's vernacular was significant. Speaking of one
of our horses he said: "Like a mule he'll be your friend for twenty
years to git a chance to kick you." Speaking of another that had to be
shod he said: "Shore, he'll step high to-morrow." Isbel appeared to be
remarkably efficient as camp-rustler and cook, but he did not inspire
me with confidence. In speaking of this to the Doyles I found them
non-committal on the subject. Westerners have sensitive feelings. I
could not tell whether they were offended or not, and I half regretted
mentioning my lack of confidence in Isbel. As it turned out, however,
I was amply justified.
Sievert Nielsen, whom I have mentioned elsewhere, was the fourth of my
Darkness had enveloped us at supper time. I was tired out, but the
red-embered camp-fire, the cool air, the smell of wood-smoke, and the
white stars kept me awake awhile. Romer had to be put to bed. He was
wild with excitement. We had had a sleeping-bag made for him so that
once snugly in it, with the flaps buckled he could not kick off the
blankets. When we got him into it he quieted down and took exceeding
interest in his first bed in the open. He did not, however, go quickly
to sleep. Presently he called R.C. over and whispered: "Say, Uncle
Rome, I coiled a lasso an' put it under Nielsen's bed. When he's
asleep you go pull it. He's tenderfoot like Dad was. He'll think it's
a rattlesnake." This trick Romer must have remembered from reading
"The Last of the Plainsmen," where I related what Buffalo Jones'
cowboys did to me. Once Romer got that secret off his mind he fell
The hour we spent sitting around the camp-fire was the most pleasant
of that night, though I did not know it then. The smell of wood-smoke
and the glow of live coals stirred memories of other camp-fires. I was
once more enveloped by the sweetness and peace of the open, listening
to the sigh of the wind, and the faint tinkle of bells on the hobbled
An uncomfortable night indeed it turned out to be. Our covers were
scanty and did not number among them any blankets. The bed was hard as
a rock, and lumpy. No sleep! As the night wore on the air grew colder,
and I could not keep warm. At four a.m. I heard the howling of
coyotes--a thrilling and well remembered wild chorus. After that
perfect stillness reigned. Presently I saw the morning star--big,
blue-white, beautiful. Uncomfortable hours seemed well spent if the
reward was sight of the morning star. How few people ever see it! How
very few ever get a glimpse of it on a desert dawn!
Just then, about five-thirty, Romer woke up and yelled lustily: "Dad!
My nose's froze." This was a signal for me to laugh, and also to rise
heroically. Not difficult because I wanted to stay in bed, but because
I could hardly crawl out! Soon we had a fire roaring. At six the dawn
was still gray. Cold and nipping air, frost on everything, pale stars,
a gold-red light in the east were proofs that I was again in the open.
Soon a rose-colored flush beautified the Peaks.
After breakfast we had trouble with the horses. This always happened.
But it was made worse this morning because a young cowboy who happened
along took upon himself the task of helping Lee. I suspected he wanted
to show off a little. In throwing his lasso to rope one, the noose
went over the heads of two. Then he tried to hold both animals. They
dragged him, pulled the lasso out of his hands, and stampeded the
other horses. These two roped together thundered off with the noose
widening. I was afraid they would split round a tree or stump, but
fortunately the noose fell off one. As all the horses pounded off I
heard Romer remark to Isbel: "Say, Joe, I don't see any medals on that
cowboy." Isbel roared, and said: "Wal, Romer, you shore hit the nail,
on the haid!"
Owing to that stampede we did not get saddled and started till eleven
o'clock. At first I was so sore and stiff from the hard bed that I
rode a while on the wagon with Doyle. Many a mile I had ridden with
him, and many a story he had related. This time he told about sitting
on a jury at Prescott where they brought in as evidence bloody shirts,
overalls, guns, knives, until there was such a pile that the table
would not hold them. Doyle was a mine of memories of the early days.
Romer's mount was a little black, white-spotted horse named Rye. Lee
Doyle had scoured the ranches to get this pony for the youngster. Rye
was small for a horse, about the size of an Indian mustang, and he
was gentle, as well as strong and fast. Romer had been given riding
lessons all that summer in the east, and upon his arrival at Flagstaff
he informed me that he could ride. I predicted he would be in the
wagon before noon of the second day out. He offered to bet on it.
I told him I disapproved of betting. He seemed to me to be daring,
adaptable, self-willed; and I was divided between pride and anxiety as
to the outcome of this trip for him.
In the afternoon we reached Lake Mary, a long, ugly, muddy pond in a
valley between pine-slopes. Dead and ghastly trees stood in the water,
and the shores were cattle-tracked. Probably to the ranchers this
mud-hole was a pleasing picture, but to me, who loved the beauty of
the desert before its productiveness, it was hideous. When we passed
Lake Mary, and farther on the last of the cut-over timber-land, we
began to get into wonderful country. We traveled about sixteen miles,
rather a small day's ride. Romer stayed on his horse all through that
ride, and when we selected a camp site for the night he said to me:
"Well, you're lucky you wouldn't bet."
Camp that evening was in a valley with stately pines straggling down
to the level. On the other slope the pines came down in groups. The
rim of this opposite slope was high, rugged, iron-colored, with cracks
and holes. Before supper I walked up the slope back of our camp, to
come upon level, rocky ground for a mile, then pines again leading to
a low, green mountain with lighter patches of aspen. The level, open
strip was gray in color. Arizona color and Arizona country! Gray of
sage, rocks, pines, cedars, pinons, heights and depths and plains,
wild and open and lonely--that was Arizona.
That night I obtained some rest and sleep, lying awake only a few
hours, during which time I turned from side to side to find a soft
place in the hard bed. Under such circumstances I always thought
of the hard beds of the Greeks and the Spartans. Next day we rode
twenty-three miles. On horseback trips like this it was every one for
himself. Sometimes we would be spread out, all separated; at others we
would be bunched; and again we would ride in couples. The morning was
an ordeal for me, as at first I could scarcely sit my saddle; in
the afternoon, however, riding grew to be less severe. The road led
through a winding, shallow valley, with clumps of pine here and there,
and cedars on the slopes. Romer rode all the way, half the time with
his feet out of the stirrups, like a western boy born to the saddle,
and he wanted to go fast all the time. Camp was made at a place called
Fulton Spring. It might have been a spring once, but now it was a
mud-hole with a dead cow lying in it. Clear, cold water is necessary
to my pleasure, if not to my health. I have lived on sheep water--the
water holes being tainted by sheep--and alkali water and soapy water
of the desert, but never happily. How I hailed the clear, cold,
This third camp lay in a woods where the pines were beautiful and the
silence noticeable. Upon asking Romer to enumerate the things I had
called to his attention, the few times I could catch up with him on
the day's journey, he promptly replied--two big spiders--tarantulas,
a hawk, and Mormon Lake. This lake was another snow-melted mud-hole,
said to contain fish. I doubted that. Perhaps the little bull-head
catfish might survive in such muddy water, but I did not believe bass
or perch could.
One familiar feature of Arizona travel manifested itself to me that
day--the dry air. My nails became brittle and my lips began to crack.
I have had my lips cracked so severely that when I tried to bite bread
they would split and bleed and hurt so that I could not eat. This
matter of sore lips was for long a painful matter. I tried many
remedies, and finally found one, camphor ice, that would prevent the
drying and cracking.
Next day at dawn the forest was full of the soughing of wind in the
pines--a wind that presaged storm. No stars showed. Romer-boy piled
out at six o'clock. I had to follow him. The sky was dark and cloudy.
Only a faint light showed in the east and it was just light enough
to see when we ate breakfast. Owing to strayed horses we did not get
started till after nine o'clock.
Five miles through the woods, gradually descending, led us into an
open plain where there was a grass-bordered pond full of ducks. Here
appeared an opportunity to get some meat. R.C. tried with shotgun and
I with rifle, all to no avail. These ducks were shy. Romer seemed to
evince some disdain at our failure, but he did not voice his feelings.
We found some wild-turkey tracks, and a few feathers, which put our
Crossing the open ground we again entered the forest, which gradually
grew thicker as we got down to a lower altitude. Oak trees began to
show in swales. And then we soon began to see squirrels, big, plump,
gray fellows, with bushy tails almost silver. They appeared wilder
than we would have suspected, at that distance from the settlements.
Romer was eager to hunt them, and with his usual persistence,
succeeded at length in persuading his uncle to do so.
To that end we rode out far ahead of the wagon and horses. Lee had a
yellow dog he called Pups, a close-haired, keen-faced, muscular canine
to which I had taken a dislike. To be fair to Pups, I had no reason
except that he barked all the time. Pups and his barking were destined
to make me hail them both with admiration and respect, but I had no
idea of that then. Now this dog of Lee's would run ahead of us,
trail squirrels, chase them, and tree them, whereupon he would bark
vociferously. Sometimes up in the bushy top we would fail to spy the
squirrel, but we had no doubt one was there. Romer wasted many and
many a cartridge of the .22 Winchester trying to hit a squirrel. He
had practiced a good deal, and was a fairly good shot for a youngster,
but hitting a little gray ball of fur high on a tree, or waving at the
tip of a branch, was no easy matter.
"Son," I said, "you don't take after your Dad."
And his uncle tried the lad's temper by teasing him about Wetzel. Now
Wetzel, the great Indian killer of frontier days, was Romer's favorite
"Gimme the .20 gauge," finally cried Romer, in desperation, with his
Whereupon his uncle handed him the shotgun, with a word of caution
as to the trigger. This particular squirrel was pretty high up,
presenting no easy target. Romer stood almost directly under it,
raised the gun nearly straight up, waved and wobbled and hesitated,
and finally fired. Down sailed the squirrel to hit with a plump. That
was Romer's first successful hunting experience. How proud he was of
that gray squirrel! I suffered a pang to see the boy so radiant, so
full of fire at the killing of a beautiful creature of the woods. Then
again I remembered my own first sensations. Boys are blood-thirsty
little savages. In their hunting, playing, even their reading, some
element of the wild brute instinct dominates them. They are worthy
descendants of progenitors who had to fight and kill to live. This
incident furnished me much food for reflection. I foresaw that before
this trip was ended I must face some knotty problems. I hated to shoot
a squirrel even when I was hungry. Probably that was because I was not
hungry enough. A starving man suffers no compunctions at the spilling
of blood. On the contrary he revels in it with a fierce, primitive
"Some shot, I'll say!" declared Romer to his uncle, loftily. And he
said to me half a dozen times: "Say, Dad, wasn't it a grand peg?"
But toward the end of that afternoon his enthusiasm waned for
shooting, for anything, especially riding. He kept asking when the
wagon was going to stop. Once he yelled out: "Here's a peach of a
place to camp." Then I asked him: "Romer, are you tired?" "Naw! But
what's the use ridin' till dark?" At length he had to give up and be
put on the wagon. The moment was tragic for him. Soon, however, he
brightened at something Doyle told him, and began to ply the old
pioneer with rapid-fire questions.
We pitched camp in an open flat, gray and red with short grass, and
sheltered by towering pines on one side. Under these we set up our
tents. The mat of pine needles was half a foot thick, soft and springy
and fragrant. The woods appeared full of slanting rays of golden
This day we had supper over before sunset. Romer showed no effects
from his long, hard ride. First he wanted to cook, then he fooled
around the fire, bothering Isbel. I had a hard time to manage him.
He wanted to be eternally active. He teased and begged to go
hunting--then he compromised on target practice. R.C. and I, however,
were too tired, and we preferred to rest beside the camp-fire.
"Look here, kid," said R.C., "save something for to-morrow."
In disgust Romer replied: "Well, I suppose if a flock of antelope came
along here you wouldn't move.... You an' Dad are great hunters, I
After the lad had gone over to the other men R.C. turned to me and
said reflectively: "Does he remind you of us when we were little?"
To which I replied with emotion: "In him I live over again!"
That is one of the beautiful things about children, so full of pathos
and some strange, stinging joy--they bring back the days that are no
This evening, despite my fatigue, I was the last one to stay up. My
seat was most comfortable, consisting of thick folds of blankets
against a log. How the wind mourned in the trees! How the camp-fire
sparkled, glowed red and white! Sometimes it seemed full of blazing
opals. Always it held faces. And stories--more stories than I can ever
tell! Once I was stirred and inspired by the beautiful effect of the
pine trees in outline against the starry sky when the camp-fire
blazed up. The color of the foliage seemed indescribably blue-green,
something never seen by day. Every line shone bright, graceful,
curved, rounded, and all thrown with sharp relief against the sky. How
magical, exquisitely delicate and fanciful! The great trunks were
soft serrated brown, and the gnarled branches stood out in perfect
proportions. All works of art must be copied of nature.
Next morning early, while Romer slept, and the men had just begun to
stir, I went apart from the camp out into the woods. All seemed solemn
and still and cool, with the aisles of the forest brown and green and
gold. I heard an owl, perhaps belated in his nocturnal habit. Then to
my surprise I heard wild canaries. They were flying high, and to the
south, going to their winter quarters. I wandered around among big,
gray rocks and windfalls and clumps of young oak and majestic pines.
More than one saucy red squirrel chattered at me.
When I returned to camp my comrades were at breakfast. Romer appeared
vastly relieved to see that I had not taken a gun with me.
This morning we got an early start. We rode for hours through a
beautiful shady forest, where a fragrant breeze in our faces made
riding pleasant. Large oaks and patches of sumach appeared on the
rocky slopes. We descended a good deal in this morning's travel, and
the air grew appreciably warmer. The smell of pine was thick and
fragrant; the sound of wind was sweet and soughing. Everywhere pine
needles dropped, shining in the sunlight like thin slants of rain.
Only once or twice did I see Romer in all these morning hours; then he
was out in front with the cowboy Isbel, riding his black pony over
all the logs and washes he could find. I could see his feet sticking
straight out almost even with his saddle. He did not appear to need
stirrups. My fears gradually lessened.
During the afternoon the ride grew hot, and very dusty. We came to a
long, open valley where the dust lay several inches deep. It had been
an unusually dry summer and fall--a fact that presaged poor luck for
our hunting--and the washes and stream-beds were bleached white. We
came to two water-holes, tanks the Arizonians called them, and they
were vile mud-holes with green scum on the water. The horses drank,
but I would have had to be far gone from thirst before I would have
slaked mine there. We faced west with the hot sun beating on us and
the dust rising in clouds. No wonder that ride was interminably long.
At last we descended a canyon, and decided to camp in a level spot
where several ravines met, in one of which a tiny stream of dear water
oozed out of the gravel. The inclosure was rocky-sloped, full of caves
and covered with pines; and the best I could say for it was that in
case of storm the camp would be well protected. We shoveled out a deep
hole in the gravel, so that it would fill up with water. Romer had
evidently enjoyed himself this day. When I asked Isbel about him the
cowboy's hard face gleamed with a smile: "Shore thet kid's all right.
He'll make a cowpuncher!" His remark pleased me. In view of Romer's
determination to emulate the worst bandit I ever wrote about I was
tremendously glad to think of him as a cowboy. But as for myself I was
tired, and the ride had been rather unprofitable, and this camp-site,
to say the least, did not inspire me. It was neither wild nor
beautiful nor comfortable. I went early to bed and slept like a log.
The following morning some of our horses were lost. The men hunted
from daylight till ten o'clock. Then it was that I learned more about
Lee's dog Pups. At ten-thirty Lee came in with the lost horses. They
had hidden in a clump of cedars and remained perfectly quiet, as cute
as deer. Lee put Pups on their trail. Pups was a horse-trailing dog
and he soon found them. I had a change of feeling for Pups, then and
[Illustration: THE AUTHOR AND HIS MEN. From left to right: Edd Haught;
Nielsen; Haught, the bear hunter; Al Doyle, pioneer Arizona guide;
Lewis Pyle; Z.G.; George Haught; Ben Copple; Lee Doyle.]
The sun was high and hot when we rode off. The pleasant and dusty
stretches alternated. About one o'clock we halted on the edge of a deep
wooded ravine to take our usual noonday rest. I scouted along the edge
in the hope of seeing game of some kind. Presently I heard the
cluck-cluck of turkeys. Slipping along to an open place I peered down to
be thrilled by sight of four good-sized turkeys. They were walking along
the open strip of dry stream-bed at the bottom of the ravine. One was
chasing grasshoppers. They were fairly close. I took aim at one, and
thought I could have hit him, but suddenly I remembered Romer and R.C.
So I slipped back and called them.
[Illustration: ROMER-BOY ON HIS FAVORITE STEED]
Hurriedly and stealthily we returned to the point where I had seen
the turkeys. Romer had a pale face and wonderfully bright eyes; his
actions resembled those of a stalking Indian. The turkeys were farther
down, but still in plain sight. I told R.C. to take the boy and slip
down, and run and hide and run till they got close enough for a shot.
I would keep to the edge of the ravine.
Some moments later I saw R.C. and the boy running and stooping and
creeping along the bottom of the ravine. Then I ran myself to reach a
point opposite the turkeys, so in case they flew uphill I might get a
shot. But I did not see them, and nothing happened. I lost sight of
the turkeys. Hurrying back to where I had tied my horse I mounted him
and loped ahead and came out upon the ravine some distance above. Here
I hunted around for a little while. Once I heard the report of the .20
gauge, and then several rifle shots. Upon returning I found that Lee
and Nielsen had wasted some shells. R.C. and Romer came wagging up the
hill, both red and wet and tired. R.C. carried a small turkey, about
the size of a chicken. He told me, between pants, that they chased the
four large turkeys, and were just about to get a shot when up jumped a
hen-turkey with a flock of young ones. They ran every way. He got one.
Then he told me, between more pants and some laughs, that Romer
had chased the little turkeys all over the ravine, almost catching
several. Romer said for himself: "I just almost pulled feathers out of
their tails. Gee! if I'd had a gun!"
We resumed our journey. About the middle of the afternoon Doyle called
my attention to an opening in the forest through which I could see the
yellow-walled rim of the mesa, and the great blue void below. Arizona!
That explained the black forests, the red and yellow cliffs of rock,
the gray cedars, the heights and depths.
Lop? ride indeed was it down off the mesa. The road was winding, rough
full of loose rocks and dusty. We were all tired out trying to keep up
with the wagon. Romer, however, averred time and again that he was
not tired. Still I saw him often shift his seat from one side of the
saddle to the other.
At last we descended to a comparative level and came to a little
hamlet. Like all Mormon villages it had quaint log cabins, low stone
houses, an irrigation ditch running at the side of the road, orchards,
and many rosy-cheeked children. We lingered there long enough to rest
a little and drink our fill of the cold granite water. I would travel
out of my way to get a drink of water that came from granite rock.
About five o'clock we left for the Natural Bridge. Romer invited or
rather taunted me to a race. When it ended in his victory I found
that I had jolted my rifle out of its saddle sheath. I went back some
distance to look for it, but did so in vain. Isbel said he would ride
back in the morning and find it.
The country here appeared to be on a vast scale. But that was only
because we had gotten out where we could see all around. Arizona is
all on a grand, vast scale. Mountain ranges stood up to the south and
east. North loomed up the lofty, steep rim of the Mogollon Mesa, with
its cliffs of yellow and red, and its black line of timber. Westward
lay fold on fold of low cedar-covered hills. The valley appeared a
kind of magnificent bowl, rough and wild, with the distance lost
in blue haze. The vegetation was dense and rather low. I saw both
prickly-pear and mescal cactus, cedars, manzanita brush, scrub oak,
and juniper trees. These last named were very beautiful, especially
the smaller ones, with their gray-green foliage, and purple berries,
and black and white checkered bark. There were no pine trees. Since we
had left the rim above the character of plant life had changed.
We crossed the plateau leading to the valley where the Natural Bridge
was located. A winding road descended the east side of this valley.
A rancher lived down there. Green of alfalfa and orchard and walnut
trees contrasted vividly with a bare, gray slope on one side, and a
red, rugged mountain on the other. A deep gorge showed dark and wild.
At length, just after sunset, we reached the ranch, and rode through
orchards of peach and pear and apple trees, all colored with fruit,
and down through grassy meadows to a walnut grove where we pitched
camp. By the time we had supper it was dark. Wonderful stars, thick,
dreamy hum of insects, murmur of swift water, a rosy and golden
afterglow on the notch of the mountain range to the west--these were
inducements to stay up, but I was so tired I had to go to bed, where
my eyelids fell tight, as if pleasantly weighted.
After the long, hard rides and the barren camp-sites what delight to
awaken in this beautiful valley with the morning cool and breezy and
bright, with smell of new-mown hay from the green and purple alfalfa
fields, and the sunlight gilding the jagged crags above! Romer made a
bee-line for the peach trees. He beat his daddy only a few yards. The
kind rancher had visited us the night before and he had told us to
help ourselves to fruit, melons, alfalfa. Needless to state that I
made my breakfast on peaches!
I trailed the swift, murmuring stream to its source on the dark green
slope where there opened up a big hole bordered by water-cress, long
grass, and fragrant mint. This spring was one of perfectly clear
water, six feet deep, boiling up to bulge on the surface. A grass of
dark color and bunches of light green plant grew under the surface.
Bees and blue dragon-flies hummed around and frogs as green as the
grass blinked with jewelled eyes from the wet margins. The spring had
a large volume that spilled over its borders with low, hollow gurgle,
with fresh, cool splash. The water was soft, tasting of limestone.
Here was the secret of the verdure and fragrance and color and beauty
and life of the oasis.
It was also the secret of the formation of the wonderful Natural
Bridge. Part of the rancher's cultivated land, to the extent of
several acres, was the level top of this strange bridge. A meadow of
alfalfa and a fine vineyard, in the air, like the hanging gardens of
Babylon! The natural bridge spanned a deep gorge, at the bottom of
which flowed a swift stream of water. Geologically this tremendous
arch of limestone cannot be so very old. In comparatively recent times
an earthquake or some seismic disturbance or some other natural force
caused a spring of water to burst from the slope above the gorge. It
ran down, of course, over the rim. The lime salt in the water was
deposited, and year by year and age by age advanced toward the
opposite side until a bridge crossed the gorge. The swift stream at
the bottom kept the opening clear under the bridge.
A winding trail led deep down on the lower side of this wonderful
natural span. It showed the cliffs of limestone, porous, craggy,
broken, chalky. At the bottom the gorge was full of tremendous
boulders, water-worn ledges, sycamore and juniper trees, red and
yellow flowers, and dark, beautiful green pools. I espied tiny gray
frogs, reminding me of those I found in the gulches of the Grand
Canyon. Many huge black beetles, some alive, but most of them dead,
lined the wet borders of the pools. A species of fish that resembled
mullet lay in the shadow of the rocks.
From underneath the Natural Bridge showed to advantage, and if not
magnificent like the grand Nonnezoshe of Utah, it was at least
striking and beautiful. It had a rounded ceiling colored gray, yellow,
green, bronze, purple, white, making a crude and scalloped mosaic.
Water dripped from it like a rain of heavy scattered drops. The left
side was dryest and large, dark caves opened up, one above the other,
the upper being so high that it was dangerous to attempt reaching it.
The right side was slippery and wet. All rocks were thickly encrusted
with lime salt. Doyle told us that any object left under the ceaseless
drip, drip of the lime water would soon become encrusted, and heavy as
stone. The upper opening of the arch was much higher and smaller than
the lower. Any noise gave forth strange and sepulchral echoes. Romer
certainly made the welkin ring. A streak of sunlight shone through a
small hole in the thinnest part of the roof. Doyle pointed out the
high cave where Indians had once lived, showing the markings of their
fire. Also he told a story of Apaches being driven into the highest
cave from which they had never escaped. This tale was manifestly to
Romer's liking and I had to use force to keep him from risking his
neck. A very strong breeze blew under the arch. When we rolled a
boulder into the large, dark pool it gave forth a hollow boom, boom,
boom, growing hollower the deeper it went. I tried to interest Romer
in some bat nests in crevices high up, but the boy wanted to roll
stones and fish for the mullet. When we climbed out and were once more
on a level I asked him what he thought of the place. "Some hole--I'll
say!" he panted, breathlessly.
The rancher told me that the summer rains began there about July, and
the snows about the first of the year. Snow never lay long on the
lower slopes. Apaches had lived there forty years ago and had
cultivated the soil. There was gold in the mountains of the Four Peaks
Range. In this sheltered nook the weather was never severely cold or
hot; and I judged from the quaint talk of the rancher's wife that life
there was always afternoon.
Next day we rode from Natural Bridge to Payson in four and a half
hours. Payson appeared to be an old hamlet, retaining many frontier
characteristics such as old board and stone houses with high fronts,
hitching posts and pumps on sidewalks, and one street so wide that it
resembled a Mexican plaza. Payson contained two stores, where I hoped
to buy a rifle, and hoped in vain. I had not recovered my lost gun,
and when night came my prospects of anything to hunt with appeared
extremely slim. But we had visitors, and one of them was a stalwart,
dark-skinned rider named Copple, who introduced himself by saying he
would have come a good way to meet the writer of certain books he had
profited by. When he learned of the loss of my rifle and that I could
not purchase one anywhere he pressed upon me his own. I refused with
thanks, but he would not take no. The upshot of it was that he lent
me his .30 Government Winchester, and gave me several boxes of
ammunition. Also he presented me with a cowhide lasso. Whereupon
Romer-boy took a shine to Copple at once. "Say, you look like an
Indian," he declared. With a laugh Copple replied: "I am part Indian,
sonny." Manifestly that settled his status with Romer, for he piped
up: "So's Dad part Indian. You'd better come huntin' with us."
We had for next day to look forward to the longest and hardest ride of
the journey in, and in order to make it and reach a good camping site
I got up at three o'clock in the morning to rout everybody out. It
was pitch dark until we kindled fires. Then everybody rustled to such
purpose that we were ready to start before dawn, and had to wait a
little for light enough to see where we were going. This procedure
tickled Romer immensely. I believed he imagined he was in a pioneer
caravan. The gray breaking of dawn, the coming of brighter light, the
rose and silver of the rising sun, and the riding in its face, with
the air so tangy and nipping, were circumstances that inspired me as
the adventurous start pleased Romer. The brush and cactus-lined road
was rough, up hill and down, with ever increasing indications that
it was seldom used. From the tops of high points I could see black
foothills, round, cone-shaped, flat-topped, all leading the gaze
toward the great yellow and red wall of the mesa, with its fringed
borderline, wild and beckoning.
We walked our horses, trotted, loped, and repeated the order, over
and over, hour by hour, mile after mile, under a sun that burned
our faces and through choking dust. The washes and stream-beds were
bleached and dry; the brush was sear and yellow and dust laden; the
mescal stalks seemed withered by hot blasts. Only the manzanita looked
fresh. That smooth red-branched and glistening green-leafed plant
of the desert apparently flourished without rain. On all sides the
evidences of extreme drought proved the year to be the dreaded _anno
seco_ of the Mexicans.
For ten hours we rode without a halt before there was any prominent
change in the weary up- and down-hill going, in the heat and dust and
brush-walled road. But about the middle of the afternoon we reached
the summit of the longest hill, from which we saw ahead of us a cut up
country, wild and rugged and beautiful, with pine-sloped canyon at our
feet. We heard the faint murmur of running water. Hot, dusty, wet with
sweat, and thirsty as sheep, we piled down that steep slope as fast
as we dared. Our horses did not need urging. At the bottom we plunged
into a swift stream of clear, cold water--granite water--to drink of
which, and to bathe hot heads and burning feet, was a joy only known
to the weary traveler of the desert. Romer yelled that the water was
like that at our home in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and he drank
till I thought he would burst, and then I had to hold him to keep him
from wallowing in it.
Here we entered a pine forest. Heat and dust stayed with us, and the
aches and pains likewise, but the worst of them lay behind. Every mile
grew shadier, clearer, cooler.
Nielsen happened to fall in and ride beside me for several miles,
as was often his wont. The drink of water stirred him to an Homeric
recital of one of his desert trips in Sonora, at the end of which,
almost dead of thirst, he had suddenly come upon such a stream as the
one we had just passed. Then he told me about his trips down the west
coast of Sonora, along the Gulf, where he traveled at night, at low
tide, so that by daytime his footprints would be washed out. This
was the land of the Seri Indians. Undoubtedly these Indians were
cannibals. I had read considerable about them, much of which ridiculed
the rumors of their cannibalistic traits. This of course had been of
exceeding interest to me, because some day I meant to go to the land
of the Seris. But not until 1918 did I get really authentic data
concerning them. Professor Bailey of the University of California told
me he had years before made two trips to the Gulf, and found the Seris
to be the lowest order of savages he knew of. He was positive that
under favorable circumstances they would practice cannibalism. Nielsen
made four trips down there. He claimed the Seris were an ugly tribe.
In winter they lived on Tiburon Island, off which boats anchored on
occasions, and crews and fishermen and adventurers went ashore to
barter with the Indians. These travelers did not see the worst of the
Seris. In summer they range up the mainland, and they go naked. They
do not want gold discovered down there. They will fight prospectors.
They use arrows and attack at dawn. Also they poison the water-holes.
Nielsen told of some men who were massacred by Seris on the mainland
opposite Tiburon Island. One man, who had gone away from camp,
returned to hear the attack upon his companions. He escaped and made
his way to Gyamus. Procuring assistance this man returned to the scene
of the massacre, only to find stakes in the sand, with deep trails
tramped around them, and blackened remains of fires, and bones
everywhere. Nielsen went on to say that once from a hiding place he
had watched Seris tear up and devour a dead turtle that he afterward
ascertained was putrid. He said these Seris were the greatest runners
of all desert savages. The best of them could outrun a horse. One
Seri, a giant seven feet tall, could outrun a deer and break its neck
with his hands.
These statements of Nielsen's were remarkable, and personally I
believed them. Men of his stamp were honest and they had opportunities
to learn strange and terrible facts in nature. The great naturalist
Darwin made rather stronger claims for the barbarism of the savages of
Terra del Fuego. Nielsen, pursuing his theme, told me how he had
seen, with his own eyes--and they were certainly sharp and
intelligent--Yaqui Indians leap on the bare backs of wild horses
and locking their legs, stick there in spite of the mad plunges and
pitches. The Gauchos of the Patagonian Pampas were famous for that
feat of horsemanship. I asked Joe Isbel what he thought of such
riding. And he said: "Wal, I can ride a wild steer bare-back,
but excoose me from tacklin' a buckin' bronch without saddle an'
stirrups." This coming from the acknowledged champion horseman of the
southwest was assuredly significant.
At five o'clock we came to the end of the road. It led to a forest
glade, overlooking the stream we had followed, and that was as far as
our wagon could go. The glade shone red with sumach, and surrounded
by tall pines, with a rocky and shady glen below, it appeared a
delightful place to camp. As I was about to unsaddle my horses I heard
the cluck-cluck of turkeys. Pulling out my borrowed rifle, and calling
Romer, I ran to the edge of the glade. The shady, swift stream ran
fifty feet or so below me. Across it I saw into the woods where shade
and gray rocks and colored brush mingled. Again I heard the turkeys
cluck. "Look hard, son," I whispered. "They're close." R.C. came
slipping along below us, with his rifle ready. Suddenly Romer
stiffened, then pointed. "There! Dad!--There!" I saw two gobblers wade
into the brook not more than a hundred and fifty feet away. Drawing
down with fine aim I fired. The bullet splashed water all over the
turkeys. One with loud whirr of wings flew away. The other leaped
across the brook and ran--swift as a deer--right up the slope. As
I tried to get the sight on him I heard other turkeys fly, and the
crack-crack of R.C.'s gun. I shot twice at my running turkey, and all
I did was to scatter the dirt over him, and make him run faster. R.C.
had not done any better shooting. Romer, wonderful to relate, was so
excited that he forgot to make fun of our marksmanship. We scouted
around some, but the turkeys had gone. By promising to take Romer
hunting after supper I contrived to get him back to the glade, where
we made camp.
After we had unpacked and while the men were pitching the tents and
getting supper I took Romer on a hunt up the creek. I was considerably
pleased to see good-sized trout in the deeper pools. A little way
above camp the creek forked. As the right-hand branch appeared to be
larger and more attractive we followed its course. Soon the bustle
of camp life and the sound of the horses were left far behind. Romer
slipped along beside me stealthily as an Indian, all eyes and ears.
We had not traveled thus for a quarter of a mile when my quick ear
caught the cluck-cluck of turkeys. "Listen," I whispered, halting.
Romer became like a statue, his dark eyes dilating, his nostrils
quivering, his whole body strung. He was a Zane all right. A turkey
called again; then another answered. Romer started, and nodded his
"Come on now, right behind me," I whispered. "Step where I step and do
what I do. Don't break any twigs."
Cautiously we glided up the creek, listening now and then to get the
direction, until we came to an open place where we could see some
distance up a ridge. The turkey clucks came from across the creek
somewhere up this open aisle of the forest. I crawled ahead several
rods to a more advantageous point, much pleased to note that Romer
kept noiselessly at my heels. Then from behind a stone we peeped out.
Almost at once a turkey flew down from a tree into the open lane.
"Look Dad!" whispered Romer, wildly. I had to hold him down. "That's a
hen turkey," I said. "See, it's small and dull-colored. The gobblers
are big, shiny, and they have red on their heads."
Another hen turkey flew down from a rather low height. Then I made out
grapevines, and I saw several animated dark patches among them. As I
looked three turkeys flopped down to the ground. One was a gobbler of
considerable size, with beautiful white and bronze feathers. Rather
suspiciously he looked down our way. The distance was not more than a
hundred yards. I aimed at him, feeling as I did so how Romer quivered
beside me, but I had no confidence in Copple's rifle. The sights were
wrong for me. The stock did not fit me. So, hoping for a closer and
better shot, I let this opportunity pass. Of course I should have
taken it. The gobbler clucked and began to trot up the ridge, with the
others after him. They were not frightened, but they appeared rather
suspicious. When they disappeared in the woods Romer and I got up, and
hurried in pursuit. "Gee! why didn't you peg that gobbler?" broke out
Romer, breathlessly. "Wasn't he a peach?"
When we reached the top of the ridge we advanced very cautiously
again. Another open place led to a steep, rocky hillside with cedars
and pines growing somewhat separated. I was disappointed in not seeing
the turkeys. Then in our anxiety and eagerness we hurried on, not
noiselessly by any means. All of a sudden there was a rustle, and then
a great whirr of wings. Three turkeys flew like grouse away into the
woods. Next I saw the white gobbler running up the rocky hillside. At
first he was in the open. Aiming as best I could I waited for him to
stop or hesitate. But he did neither. "Peg him, Dad!" yelled Romer.
The lad was right. My best chance I had again forfeited. To hit a
running wild turkey with a rifle bullet was a feat I had not done
so often as to inspire conceit. The gobbler was wise, too. For that
matter all grown gobblers are as wise as old bucks, except in the
spring mating season, when it is a crime to hunt them. This one, just
as I got a bead on him, always ran behind a rock or tree or shrub.
Finally in desperation I took a snap shot at him, hitting under him,
making him jump. Then in rapid succession I fired four more times. I
had the satisfaction of seeing where my bullets struck up the dust,
even though they did go wide of the mark. After my last shot the
"Well, Dad, you sure throwed the dirt over him!" declared Romer.
"Son, I don't believe I could hit a flock of barns with this gun," I
replied, gazing doubtfully at the old, shiny, wire-wrapped, worn-out
Winchester Copple had lent me. I had been told that he was a fine
marksman and could drive a nail with it. Upon my return to camp I
tried out the rifle, carefully, with a rest, to find that it was not
accurate. Moreover it did not throw the bullets consistently. It shot
high, wide, low; and right there I abandoned any further use for it.
R.C. tried to make me take his rifle to use on the hunting trip;
Nielsen and Lee wanted me to take theirs, but I was disgusted with
myself and refused. "Thanks, boys," I said. "Maybe this will be a
lesson to me."
We had been up since three o'clock that morning, and the day's travel
had been exhausting. I had just enough energy left to scrape up a
huge, soft pile of pine needles upon which to make our bed. After
that all was oblivion until I was awakened by the ringing strokes of
The morning, after the sun got up, was exceedingly delightful.
And this camp was such a contrast to the others, so pleasant and
attractive, that even if we had not arranged to meet Lee Haught and
his sons here I would have stayed a while anyway. Haught was a famed
bear hunter who lived in a log-cabin somewhere up under the rim of the
mesa. While Lee and Nielsen rode off up the trail to find Haught I
gave Romer his first try at rainbow trout. The water of the creek was
low and clear, so that we could see plenty of good-sized trout. But
they were shy. They would not rise readily to any of our flies, though
I got several strikes. We searched under the stones for worms and
secured a few. Whereupon Romer threw a baited hook to a trout we
plainly saw. The trout gobbled it. Romer had been instructed in the
fine art of angling, but whenever he got a bite he always forgot
science. He yanked this ten-inch rainbow right out. Then in another
pool he hooked a big fellow that had ideas of his own as well as
weight and strength. Romer applied the same strenuous tactics. But
this trout nearly pulled Romer off the rock before the line broke. I
took occasion then to deliver to the lad a lecture. In reply he said
tearfully: "I didn't know he was so--so big."
When we returned to camp, Haught and his sons were there. Even at a
distance their horses, weapons, and persons satisfied my critical
eye. Lee Haught was a tall, spare, superbly built man, with square
shoulders. He had a brown face with deep lines and sunken cheeks, keen
hazel eyes, heavy dark mustache, and hair streaked a little with gray.
The only striking features of his apparel were his black sombrero and
His sons, Edd and George, were young, lean, sallow, still-faced,
lanky-legged horsemen with clear gray eyes. They did not appear to be
given, to much speech. Both were then waiting for the call of the army
draft. Looking at them then, feeling the tranquil reserve and latent
force of these Arizonians, I reflected that the Germans had failed
in their psychology of American character. A few hundred thousand
Americans like the Haught boys would have whipped the German army.
We held a council. Haught said he would send his son Edd with Doyle,
and by a long roundabout forest road get the wagon up on the mesa.
With his burros and some of our horses packed we could take part of
the outfit up the creek trail, past his cabin, and climb out on the
rim, where we would find grass, water, wood, and plenty of game.
The idea of permanent camp before sunset that very day inspired us to
united and vigorous effort. By noon we had the pack train ready. Edd
and Doyle climbed on the wagon to start the other way. Romer waved his
hand: "Good-bye, Mr. Doyle, don't break down and lose the apples!"
Then we were off, up the narrow trail along the creek. Haught led the
way. Romer attached himself to the bear-hunter, and wherever the trail
was wide enough rode beside him. R.C. and I followed. The other men
fell in behind the pack train.
The ride was hot, and for the most part all up hill. That basin could
be likened to the ribs of a washboard: it was all hills, gorges,
ridges and ravines. The hollows of this exceedingly rough country were
thick with pine and oak, the ridges covered with cedar, juniper, and
manzanita. The ground, where it was not rocky, was a dry, red clay. We
passed Haught's log cabin and clearing of a few acres, where I saw fat
hogs and cattle. Beyond this point the trail grew more zigzag, and
steeper, and shadier. As we got higher up the air grew cooler. I noted
a change in the timber. The trees grew larger, and other varieties
appeared. We crossed a roaring brook lined by thick, green brush, very
pleasant to the eye, and bronze-gold ferns that were beautiful. We
passed oaks all green and yellow, and maple trees, wonderfully colored
red and cerise. Then still higher up I espied some silver spruces,
most exquisite trees of the mountain forests.
During the latter half of the climb up to the rim I had to attend to
the business of riding and walking. The trail was rough, steep, and
long. Once Haught called my attention to a flat stone with a plain
trail made by a turtle in ages past when that sandstone was wet,
sedimentary deposit. By and bye we reached the last slopes up to the
mesa, green, with yellow crags and cliffs, and here and there blazing
maples to remind me again that autumn was at hand.
At last we surmounted the rim, from which I saw a scene that defied
words. It was different from any I had seen before. Black timber as
far as eye could see! Then I saw a vast bowl inclosed by dim mountain
ranges, with a rolling floor of forested ridges, and dark lines I knew
to be canyons. For wild, rugged beauty I had not seen its equal.
[Illustration: THE TONTO BASIN]
When the pack train reached the rim we rode on, and now through a
magnificent forest at eight thousand feet altitude. Big white and black
clouds obscured the sun. A thunder shower caught us. There was hail, and
the dry smell of dust, and a little cold rain. Romer would not put on
his slicker. Haught said the drought had been the worst he had seen in
twenty years there. Up in this odorous forestland I could not see where
there had been lack of rain. The forest appeared thick, grassy, gold and
yellow and green and brown. Thickets and swales of oaks and aspens were
gorgeous in their autumn hues. The silver spruces sent down long,
graceful branches that had to be brushed aside or stooped under as we
rode along. Big gray squirrels with white tails and tufted ears ran up
trees to perch on limbs and watch us go by; and other squirrels, much
smaller and darker gray, frisked and chattered and scolded at a great
[Illustration: LISTENING FOR THE HOUNDS]
We passed little depressions that ran down into ravines, and these,
Haught informed me, were the heads of canyons that sloped away from
the rim, deepening and widening for miles. The rim of the mesa was
its highest point, except here and there a few elevations like Black
Butte. Geologically this mesa was an enormous fault, like the north
rim of the Grand Canyon. During the formation of the earth, or the
hardening of the crust, there had been a crack or slip, so that one
edge of the crust stood up sheer above the other. We passed the heads
of Leonard Canyon, Gentry, and Turkey Canyons, and at last, near
time of sunset, headed down into beautifully colored, pine-sloped,
aspen-thicketed Beaver Dam Canyon.
A mile from the rim we were deep in the canyon, walled in by
rock-strewn and pine-timbered slopes too steep for a horse to climb.
There was a little gully on the black soil where there were no
evidences of recent water. Haught said he had never seen Beaver Dam
Creek dry until this season. We traveled on until we came to a wide,
open space, where three forks of this canyon met, and where in the
middle of this glade there rose a lengthy wooded bench, shaded and
beautified by stately pines and silver spruce. At this point water
appeared in the creek bed, flowing in tiny stream that soon gathered
volume. Cold and clear and pure it was all that was needed to make
this spot an ideal camp site. Haught said half a mile below there was
a grassy park where the horses would graze with elk.
We pitched our tents on this bench, and I chose for my location a
space between two great monarchs of the forests, that had surely
shaded many an Indian encampment. At the upper end of the bench rose a
knoll, golden and green with scrub oaks, and russet-colored with its
lichened rocks. About all we could manage that evening was to eat and
go to bed.
Morning broke cool and bright, with heavy dew. I got my boots as wet
as if I had waded in water. This surprised me, occurring on October
sixth, and at eight thousand feet altitude, as I had expected frost.
Most of this day was spent in making camp, unpacking, and attending to
the many necessary little details that make for comfort in the open.
To be sure Romer worked very spasmodically. He spent most of his time
on the back of one of Haught's burros, chasing and roping another. I
had not remembered seeing the lad so happily occupied.
Late in the afternoon I slipped off down the canyon alone, taking
Haught's rifle for safety rather than a desire to kill anything. By
no means was it impossible to meet a bad bear in that forest. Some
distance below camp I entered a ravine and climbed up to the level,
and soon found myself deep in the fragrant, colorful, wild forest.
Like coming home again was it to enter that forest of silver-tipped,
level-spreading spruce, and great, gnarled, massive pines, and
oak-patches of green and gold, and maple thickets, with shining aspens
standing white against the blaze of red and purple. High, wavy,
bleached grass, brown mats of pine needles, gray-green moss waving
from the spruces, long strands of sunlight--all these seemed to
At a distance there was a roar of wind through the forest; close at
hand only a soft breeze. Rustling of twigs caused me to compose myself
to listen and watch. Soon small gray squirrels came into view all
around me, bright-eyed and saucy, very curious about this intruder.
They began to chatter. Other squirrels were working in the tops of
trees, for I heard the fall of pine cones. Then came the screech of
blue jays. Soon they too discovered me. The male birds were superb,
dignified, beautiful. The color was light blue all over with dark blue
head and tufted crest. By and bye they ceased to scold me, and I was
left to listen to the wind, and to the tiny patter of dropping seeds
and needles from the spruces. What cool, sweet, fresh smell this
woody, leafy, earthy, dry, grassy, odorous fragrance, dominated by
scent of pine! How lonesome and restful! I felt a sense of deep peace
and rest. This golden-green forest, barred with sunlight, canopied by
the blue sky, and melodious with its soughing moan of wind, absolutely
filled me with content and happiness. If a stag or a bear had trotted
out into my sight, and had showed me no animosity, not improbably I
would have forgotten my gun. More and more as I lived in the open I
grew reluctant to kill.
Presently a porcupine waddled along some rods away, and unaware of my
presence it passed by and climbed a spruce. I saw it climb high and
finally lost sight of it. In searching up and down this spruce I grew
alive to what a splendid and beautiful tree it was. Where so many
trees grew it always seemed difficult to single out one and study
it. This silver spruce was five feet through at the base, rugged,
gray-seamed, thick all the way to its lofty height. Its branches
were small, with a singular feature that they were uniform in shape,
length, and droop. Most all spruce branches drooped toward the ground.
That explained why they made such excellent shelters from rain. After
a hard storm I had seen the ground dry under a thick-foliaged spruce.
Many a time had I made a bed under one. Elk and deer stand under
a spruce during a rain, unless there is thunder and lightning. In
forests of high altitude, where lightning strikes many trees, I have
never found or heard of elk and deer being killed. This particular
spruce was a natural tent in the forest. The thick-spreading graceful
silver plumes extended clear to the top, where they were bushiest,
and rounded out, with all the largest branches there. Each dark gray
branch was fringed and festooned with pale green moss, like the
cypresses of the South.
Suddenly I heard a sharp snapping of twigs and then stealthy, light
steps. An animal of some species was moving in the thicket nearby.
Naturally I sustained a thrill, and bethought me of the rifle. Then I
peered keenly into the red rose shadows of the thicket. The sun was
setting now, and though there appeared a clear golden light high
in the forest, along the ground there were shadows. I heard leaves
falling, rustling. Tall white aspens stood out of the thicket, and two
of the large ones bore the old black scars of bear claws. I was sure,
however, that no bear hid in the thicket at this moment. Presently
whatever the animal was it pattered lightly away on the far side.
After that I watched the quiver of the aspen leaves. Some were green,
some yellow, some gold, but they all had the same wonderful tremor,
the silent fluttering that gave them the most exquisite action in
nature. The sun set, the forest darkened, reminding me of supper time.
So I returned to camp. As I entered the open canyon Romer-boy espied
me--manifestly he had been watching--and he yelled: "Here comes my
Daddy now!... Say, Dad, did you get any pegs?"
Next morning Haught asked me if I would like to ride around through
the woods and probably get a shot at a deer. Romer coaxed so to go
that I finally consented.
We rode down the canyon, and presently came to a wide grassy park
inclosed by high green-clad slopes, the features of which appeared to
be that the timber on the west slope was mostly pine, and on the east
slope it was mostly spruce. I could arrive at no certain reason for
this, but I thought it must be owing to the snow lying somewhat longer
on the east slope. The stream here was running with quite a little
volume of water. Our horses were grazing in this park. I saw fresh
elk tracks made the day before. Elk were quite abundant through this
forest, Haught informed me, and were protected by law.
A couple of miles down this trail the canyon narrowed, losing its
park-like dimensions. The farther we traveled the more water there
was in the stream, and more elk, deer, and turkey tracks in the
sand. Every half mile or so we would come to the mouth of a small
intersecting canyon, and at length we rode up one of these, presently
to climb out on top. At this distance from the rim the forest was more
open than in the vicinity of our camp, affording better riding and
hunting. Still the thickets of aspen and young pine were so frequent
that seldom could I see ahead more than several hundred yards.
Haught led the way, I rode next and Romer kept beside me where it was
possible to do so. There was, however, no trail. How difficult to keep
the lad quiet! I expected of course that Haught would dismount, and
take me to hunt on foot. After a while I gathered he did not hunt deer
except on horseback. He explained that cowboys rounded up cattle in
this forest in the spring and fall, and deer were not frightened at
sound or sight of a horse. Some of the thrill and interest in the
forest subsided for me. I did not like to hunt in a country where
cattle ranged, no matter how wild they were. Then when we came to a
forested ridge bare of grass and smelling of sheep, that robbed the
forest of a little more glamour. Mexican sheep-herders drove their
flocks up this far sometimes. Haught said bear, lion, lynx, and
coyote, sometimes the big gray wolves, followed the sheep. Deer,
however, hated a sheep-run range.
Riding was exceedingly pleasant. The forest was shady, cool, full of
sunlight and beauty. Nothing but fire or the lumbermen could ever rob
it of its beauty, silence, fragrance, and of its temple-like majesty.
So provided we did not meet any cattle or sheep I did not care whether
or not we sighted any game. In fact I would have forgotten we were
hunting had not Romer been along. With him continually seeing things
it was difficult to keep from imagining that we were hunting Indians.
The Apaches had once lived in this country Haught informed us; and it
was a habit of theirs to burn the grass and fallen leaves over every
fall, thus keeping down the underbrush. In this the Indians showed how
near-sighted they were; the future growth of a forest did not concern
them. Usually Indians were better conservationists than white men.
We rode across a grove of widely separated, stately pines, at the far
end of which stood a thicket of young pines and other brush. As we
neared this Haught suddenly reined in, and in quick and noiseless
action he dismounted. Then he jerked his rifle from his saddle-sheath,
took a couple of forward steps, and leveled it. I was so struck with
the rugged and significant picture he made that I did not dismount,
and did not see any game until after he fired. Then as I tumbled off
and got out my rifle I heard Romer gasping and crying out. A gray
streak with a bobbing white end flashed away out of sight to the left.
Next I saw a deer bounding through the thicket. Haught fired again.
The deer ran so fast that I could not get my sights anywhere near him.
Haught thudded through an opening, and an instant later, when both he
and the deer had disappeared, he shot the third time. Presently he
"Never could shoot with them open sights nohow," he said. "Shore I
missed thet yearlin' buck when he was standin'. Why didn't you smoke
"Dad, why didn't you peg him?" asked Romer, with intense regret. "Why,
I could have knocked him."
Then it was incumbent upon me to confess that the action had appeared
to be a little swift. "Wal," said Haught, "when you see one you want
to pile off quick."
As we rode on Romer naively asked me if ever in my life I had seen
anything run so fast as that deer. We entered another big grove with
thin patches of thicket here and there. Haught said these were good
places for deer to lie down, relying on their noses to scent danger
from windward, and on their eyes in the other direction. We circled to
go round thickets, descending somewhat into a swale. Here Haught got
off a little to the right. Romer and I rode up a gentle slope toward
a thin line of little pines, through which I could see into the pines
beyond. Suddenly up jumped three big gray bucks. Literally I fell off
my horse, bounced up, and pulled out my rifle. One buck was loping in
a thicket. I could see his broad, gray body behind the slender trees.
I aimed--followed him--got a bead on him--and was just about to pull
trigger when he vanished. Plunging forward I yelled to Haught. Then
Romer cried in his shrill treble: "Dad, here's a big buck--hurry!"
Turning I ran back. In wild excitement Romer was pointing. I was just
in time to see a gray rump disappear in the green. Just then Haught
shot, and after that he halloed. Romer and I went through the thicket,
working to our left, and presently came out into the open forest.
Haught was leading his horse. To Romer's eager query he replied:
"Shore, I piled him up. Two-year-old black-tail buck."
Sure enough he had shot straight this time. The buck lay motionless
under a pine, with one point of his antlers imbedded deep in the
ground. A sleek, gray, graceful deer he was just beginning to get his
winter coat. His color was indeed a bluish gray. Haught hung him up
to a branch, spread his hind legs, and cut him down the middle. The
hunter's dexterity with a knife made me wonder how many deer he had
dressed in his life in the open. We lifted the deer upon the saddle of
Haught's horse and securely tied it there with a lasso; then with the
hunter on foot, leading the way, we rode through the forest up the
main ridge between Beaver and Turkey Canyons. Toward the rim I found
the pines and spruces larger, and the thickets of aspen denser. We
passed the heads of many ravines running down to the canyons on either
side, and these were blazing gold and red in color, and so thick I
could not see a rod into them. About the middle of the afternoon we
reached camp. With venison hanging up to cool we felt somewhat like
real hunters. R.C. had gone off to look for turkeys, which enterprise
had been unsuccessful.
Upon the following day, which was October tenth, we started our bear
hunting. Haught's method appeared to me to lack something. He sent the
hounds down below the rim with George; and taking R.C. and me, and Lee
and Nielsen, he led us over to what he called Horton Thicket. Never
would I forget my first sight of that immense forest-choked canyon.
It was a great cove running up from the basin into the rim. Craggy
ledges, broken, ruined, tottering and gray, slanted down into this
abyss. The place was so vast that these ledges appeared far apart, yet
they were many. An empire of splintered cliff!
High up these cracked and stained walls were covered with lichens,
with little spruces growing in niches, and tiny yellow bushes. Points
of crumbling rock were stained gold and russet and bronze. Below the
huge gorge was full of aspens, maples, spruces--a green, crimson,
yellow density of timber, apparently impenetrable. We were accorded
different stations on the ledges all around the cove, and instructed
to stay there until called by four blasts from a hunting horn. My
point was so far from R.C.'s, across the canyon, that I had to use my
field-glass to see him. When I did look he seemed contented. Lee and
Nielsen and Haught I could not see at all. Finding a comfortable seat,
if hard rock could ever be that, I proceeded to accept my wait for
developments. One thing was sure--even though it were a futile way to
hunt it seemed rich in other recompense for me. My stand towered above
a vast colorful slope down which the wind roared as in a gale. How
could I ever hear the hounds? I watched the storm-clouds scudding
across the sky. Once I saw a rare bird, a black eagle in magnificent
flight; and so whatever happened I had my reward in that sight.
Nothing happened. For hours and hours I sat there, with frequent
intermissions away from my hard, rocky seat. Toward the close of
afternoon, when the wind began to get cold, I saw that R.C. had left
his stand. He had undoubtedly gone back to camp, which was some miles
nearer his stand than mine. At last I gave up any hope of hearing
either the hounds or the horn, as the roar of wind had increased. Once
I thought I heard a distant rifle shot. So I got on my horse and set
out to find camp. I was on a promontory, the sides of which were
indented by long ravines that were impassable except near their heads.
In fact I had been told there was only one narrow space where it was
possible to get off this promontory. Lucky indeed that I remembered
Haught telling of this! Anyway I soon found myself lost in a maze of
forested heads of ravines. Finally I went back to the rim on the
west side, and then working along I found our horse-tracks. These I
followed, with difficulty, and after an hour's travel I crossed the
narrow neck of the promontory, and back-tracked myself to camp,
arriving there at sunset.
The Haughts had put up two bear. One bear had worked around under one
of the great promontories. The hounds had gotten on his back-trail,
staying on it until it grew cold, then had left it. Their baying had
roused the bear out of his bed, and he had showed himself once or
twice on the open rock-slides. Haught saw the other bear from the rim.
This was a big, red, cinnamon bear asleep under a pine tree on an open
slope. Haught said when the hounds gave tongue on the other trail this
red bear awakened, sat up, and wagged his head slowly. He had never
been chased by hounds. He lay down in his piny bed again. The distance
was too great for an accurate shot, but Haught tried anyway, with the
result that he at least scared the cinnamon off.
These bear were both thin. As they were not the sheep-killing and
cow-killing kind their food consisted mainly of mast (acorns) and
berries. But this season there were no berries at all, and very few
acorns. So the bears were not fat. When a bear was thin he could
always outrun the hounds; if he was fat he would get hot and tired
enough to climb a tree or mad enough to stop and fight the dogs.
Haught told me there were a good many mountain lions and lynx under
the rim. They lived on elk, deer, and turkey. The lynx were the
tuft-eared, short-tailed species. They would attack and kill a
cow-elk. In winter on the rim the snow sometimes fell fifteen feet
deep, so that the game wintered underneath. Snow did not lay long on
the sunny, open ridges of the basin.
That night a storm-wind roared mightily in the pines. How wonderful to
lie snug in bed, down in the protected canyon, and hear the marching
and retreating gale above in the forest! Next day we expected rain or
snow. But there was only wind, and that quieted by afternoon. So I
took Romer off into the woods. He carried his rifle and he wore his
chaps. I could not persuade him to part with these. They rustled on
the brush and impeded his movements, and particularly tired him, and
made him look like a diminutive cowboy. How eager, keen, boyishly
vain, imaginative! He was crazy to see game, to shoot anything,
particularly bears. But it contented him to hunt turkeys. Many a stump
and bit of color he mistook for game of some kind. Nevertheless, I
had to take credence in what he thought he saw, for his eyesight was
unusually quick and keen.
That afternoon Edd and Doyle arrived, reporting an extremely rough,
roundabout climb up to the rim, where they had left the wagon. As it
was impossible to haul the supplies down into the canyon they
were packed down to camp on burros. Isbel had disapproved of this
procedure, a circumstance that struck me with peculiar significance,
which Lee explained by telling me Isbel was one of the peculiar breed
of cowboys, who no sooner were they out on the range than they wanted
to go back to town again. The truth was I had not met any of that
breed, though I had heard of them. This peculiarity of Isbel's began
to be related in my mind to his wastefulness as a cook. He cooked and
threw away as much as we ate. I asked him to be careful and to go
easy with our supplies, but I could not see that my request made any
After supper this evening R.C. heard a turkey call up on the hill east
of camp. Then I heard it, and Romer also. We ran out a ways into the
open to listen the better. R.C.'s ears were exceptionally keen. He
could hear a squirrel jump a long distance in the forest. In this case
he distinctly heard three turkeys fly up into trees. I heard one.
Romer declared he heard a flock. Then R.C. located a big bronze and
white gobbler on a lower limb of a huge pine. Presently I too espied
it. Whereupon we took shot-gun and rifle, and sallied forth sure of
fetching back to camp some wild turkey meat. Romer tagged at our
Hurrying to the slope we climbed up at least three-quarters of the
way, as swiftly as possible. And that was work enough to make me wet
and hot. The sun had set and twilight was upon us, so that we needs
must hurry if we were to be successful. Locating the big gobbler
turned out to be a task. We had to climb over brush and around rocks,
up a steep slope, rather open; and we had to do it without being seen
or making noise. Romer, despite his eagerness, did very well indeed.
At last I espied our quarry, and indeed the sight was thrilling.
Wild turkey gobblers to me, who had hunted them enough to learn how
sagacious and cunning and difficult to stalk they were, always seemed
as provocative of excitement as larger game. This big fellow hopped up
from limb to limb of the huge dead pine, and he bobbed around as if
undecided, and tried each limb for a place to roost. Then he hopped
farther up until we lost sight of him in the gnarled net-work of
R.C. wanted me to slip on alone, but I preferred to have him and Romer
go too. So we slipped stealthily upward until we reached the level.
Then progress was easier. I went to the left with the rifle, and R.C.
with the .20-gauge, and Romer, went around to the right. How rapidly
it was growing dark! Low down in the forest I could not distinguish
objects. We circled that big pine tree, and I made rather a wide
detour, perhaps eighty yards from it. At last I got the upper part of
the dead pine silhouetted against the western sky. Moving to and fro I
finally made out a large black lump way out upon a spreading branch.
Could that be the gobbler? I studied that dark enlarged part of the
limb with great intentness, and I had about decided that it was only
a knot when I saw a long neck shoot out. That lump was the wise old
turkey all right. He was almost in the top of the tree and far out
from the trunk. No wild cat or lynx could ever surprise him there! I
reflected upon the instinct that governed him to protect his life so
cunningly. Safe he was from all but man and gun!
When I came to aim at him with the rifle I found that I could see
only a blur of sights. Other branches and the tip of a very high pine
adjoining made a dark background. I changed my position, working
around to where the background was all open sky. It proved to be
better. By putting the sights against this open sky I could faintly
see the front sight through the blurred ring. It was a good long shot
even for daylight, and I had a rifle I knew nothing about. But all the
difficulty only made a keener zest. Just then I heard Romer cry out
excitedly, and then R.C. spoke distinctly. Far more careless than that
they began to break twigs under their feet. The gobbler grew uneasy.
How he stretched out his long neck! He heard them below. I called out
low and sharp: "Stand still! Be quiet!" Then I looked again through
the blurred peep-sight until I caught the front sight against the open
sky. This done I moved the rifle over until I had the sight aligned
against the dark shape. Straining my eyes I held hard--then fired. The
big dark lump on the branch changed shape, and fell, to alight with a
sounding thump. I heard Romer running, but could not see him. Then his
high voice pealed out: "I got him, Dad. You made a grand peg!"
Not only had Romer gotten him, but he insisted on packing him back to
camp. The gobbler was the largest I ever killed, not indeed one of the
huge thirty-five pounders, but a fat, heavy turkey, and quite a load
for a boy. Romer packed him down that steep slope in the dark without
a slip, for which performance I allowed him to stay up a while around
The Haughts came over from their camp that night and visited us. Much
as I loved to sit alone beside a red-embered fire at night in the
forest, or on the desert, I also liked upon occasions to have company.
We talked and talked. Old-timer Doyle told more than one of his "in
the early days" stories. Then Haught told us some bear stories. The
first was about an old black bear charging and sliding down at him. He
said no hunter should ever shoot at a bear above him, because it could
come down at him as swiftly as a rolling rock. This time he worked the
lever of his rifle at lightning speed, and at the last shot he "shore
saw bear hair right before his eyes." His second story was about a
boy who killed a bear, and was skinning it when five more bears came
along, in single file, and made it very necessary that he climb a tree
until they had gone. His third story was about an old she-bear that
had two cubs. Haught happened to ride within sight of her when
evidently she thought it time to put her cubs in a safe place. So she
tried to get them to climb a spruce tree, and finally had to cuff and
spank them to make them go up. In connection with this story he told
us he had often seen she-bears spank their cubs. More thrilling was
his fourth story about a huge grizzly, a sheep and cattle killer that
passed through the country, leaving death behind him on the range.
Romer's enjoyment of this story-telling hour around the glowing
camp-fire was equalled by his reluctance to go to bed. "Aw, Dad,
please let me hear one more," he pleaded. His shining eyes would have
weakened a sterner discipline than mine. And Haught seemed inspired by
"Wal now, listen to this hyar," he began again, with a twinkle in his
eye. "Thar was an old fellar had a ranch in Chevelon Canyon, an' he
was always bein' pestered by mountain lions. His name was Bill Tinker.
Now Bill was no sort of a hunter, fact was he was afeerd of lions an'
bears, but he shore did git riled when any critters rustled around
his cabin. One day in the fall he comes home an' seen a big she-lion
sneakin' around. He grabbed a club, an' throwed it, and yelled to
scare the critter away. Wal, he had an old water barrel layin' around,
an' darned if the lion didn't run in thet barrel an' hide. Bill run
quick an' flopped the barrel end up, so he had the lion trapped. He
had to set on the barrel to hold it down. Shore that lion raised old
Jasper under the barrel. Bill was plumb scared. Then he seen the
lion's tail stick out through the bung-hole. Bill bent over an' shore
quick tied a knot in thet long tail. Then he run fer his cabin. When
he got to the door he looked back to see the lion tearin' down the
hill fer the woods with the barrel bumpin' behind her. Bill said he
never seen her again till next spring, an' she had the barrel still on
her tail. But what was stranger'n thet Bill swore she had four cubs
with her an' each of them had a keg on its tail."
We all roared with laughter except Romer. His interest had been
so all-absorbing, his excitement so great, and his faith in the
story-teller so reverential that at first he could not grasp the trick
at the end of the story. His face was radiant, his eyes were dark and
dilated. When the truth dawned upon him, amaze and disappointment
changed his mobile face, and then came mirth. He shouted as if to the
tree-tops on high. Long after he was in bed I heard him laughing to
I was awakened a little after daylight by the lad trying to get into
his boots. His boots were rather tight, and somehow, even in a dry
forest, he always contrived to get them wet, so that in the morning it
was a herculean task for him to pull them on. This occasion appeared
more strenuous than usual. "Son, what's the idea?" I inquired. "It's
just daylight--not time to get up." He desisted from his labors
long enough to pant: "Uncle Rome's--gone after turkeys. Edd's going
to--call them with--a caller--made out of a turkey's wing-bone." And
I said: "But they've gone now." Whereupon he subsided: "Darned old
boots! I heard Edd and Uncle Rome. I'd been ready if I could have got
into my darned old boots.... See here, Dad, I'm gonna wear moccasins."
As we were sitting round the camp-fire, eating breakfast, R.C. and Edd
returned; and R.C. carried a turkey gobbler the very size and color of
the one I had shot the night before. R.C.'s face wore the keen, pleased
expression characteristic of it when he had just had some unusual and
[Illustration: ZANE GREY ON DON CARLOS]
[Illustration: WILD TURKEY]
"Sure was great," he said, warming his hands at the fire. "We went up
on the hill where you killed your gobbler last night. Got there just
in the gray light of dawn. We were careful not to make any noise. Edd
said if there were any more turkeys they would come down at daylight.
So we waited until it was light enough to see. Then Edd got out his
turkey bone and began to call. Turkeys answered from the trees all
around. By George, it was immense! Edd had picked out a thicket of
little pines for us to hide in, and in front of us was a glade with a
big fallen tree lying across it. Edd waited a few moments. The woods
was all gray and quiet. I don't know when I've felt so good. Then he
called again. At once turkeys answered from all around in the trees.
Next I heard a swish of wings, then a thump. Then more swishes. The
turkeys were flying down from their roosts. It seemed to me in my
excitement that there were a hundred of them. We could hear them
pattering over the dry ground. Edd whispered: 'They're down. Now we
got to do some real callin'.' I felt how tense, how cautious he was.
When he called again there was some little difference, I don't know
what, unless it was his call sounded more like a real turkey. They
answered. They were gathering in front of us, and I made sure were
coming into the glade. Edd stopped calling. Then he whispered: 'Ready
now. Look out!'... Sure I was looking all right. This was my first
experience calling turkeys and I simply shook all over. Suddenly I
saw a turkey head stick up over the log. Then!--up hopped a beautiful
gobbler. He walked along the log, looked and peered, and stretched his
neck. Sure he was suspicious. Edd gave me a hunch, which I took to be
a warning to shoot quick. That was a hard place for me. I wanted to
watch the gobbler. I wanted to see the others. We could hear them all
over the glade. But this was my chance. Quickly I rose and took a peg
at him. A cloud of feathers puffed off him. He gave a great bounce,
flapping his wings. I heard a roaring whirr of other turkeys. With my
eye on my gobbler I seemed to see the air full of big, black, flying
things. My gobbler came down, bounced up again, got going--when with
the second barrel I knocked him cold. Then I stood there watching the
flock whirring every way into the forest. Must have been thirty-five
or forty of them, all gobblers. It was a great sight. And right here I
declared myself--wild turkey is the game for me."
Romer manifestly listened to this narrative with mingled feelings of
delight and despair. "Uncle Rome, wild turkey's the game for me, too
... and by Gosh! I'll fix those boots of mine!"
That morning we were scheduled for another bear hunt, on which I had
decided to go down under the rim with Edd and George. Lee had his
doubts about my horse, and desired me to take his, or at least one
of the others. Now his horse was too spirited for me to ride after
hounds, and I did not want to take one of the others, so I was
compelled to ride my own. At the last moment Lee had been disappointed
in getting a mustang he particularly wanted for me, and so it had
fallen about that my horse was the poorest in the outfit, which to put
it mildly was pretty poor. I had made the best of the matter so far,
and hoped to continue doing so.
We rode up the east slope of Beaver Dam Canyon, through the forest,
and out along the rim for five or six miles, way on the other side of
the promontory where I had gotten lost. Here Haught left us, taking
with him R.C. and Lee and Nielsen, all of whom were to have stands
along the rim. We hoped to start a bear and chase him round under the
high points toward Horton Thicket.
The magnificent view from the head of a trail where Edd started down
impressed me so powerfully that I lagged behind. Below me heaved
a split, tossed, dimpled, waving, rolling world of black-green
forestland. Far across it stood up a rugged, blue, waved range of
mountains--the Sierra Anchas.
The trail was rough, even for Arizonians, which made it for me little
short of impassable. I got off to lead my horse. He had to be pulled
most of the time, wherefore I lost patience with him. I loved horses,
but not stubborn ones. All the way down the rocky trail the bunch
grass and wild oak and manzanita were so thick that I had to crush my
way through. At length I had descended the steep part to find Edd and
George waiting for me below on the juniper benches. These were slopes
of red earth or clay, bare of grass, but thick with junipers, cactus,
and manzanita. This face of the great rim was a southern exposure,
hot and dusty. The junipers were thick. The green of their foliage
somewhat resembled cedars, but their berries were gray-blue, almost
lavender in color. I tasted several from different trees, until I
found one with sweet, somewhat acrid taste. Significant it was that
this juniper had broken branches where bears had climbed to eat the
fruit, and all around on the ground beneath was bear sign. Edd said
the tracks were cold, but all the same he had to be harsh with the
hounds to hold them in. I counted twenty piles of bear manure under
one juniper, and many places where bears had scraped in the soft earth
We went on down this slope, getting into thicker brush and rougher
ground. All at once the hounds opened up in thrilling chorus of bays
and barks. I saw Edd jump off his horse to stoop and examine the
ground, where evidently he had seen a bear track. "Fresh--made last
night!" he yelled, mounting hurriedly. "Hi! Hi! Hi!" His horse leaped
through the brush, and George followed. In an instant they were out of
sight. Right there my trouble began. I spurred my horse after them,
and it developed that he differed from me in regard to direction and
going. He hated the brush. But I made him take to it and made him run.
Dodging branches was an old story for me, and if I had been on a good
fast horse I might have kept Edd and George in sight. As it was,
however, I had to follow them by the sound of hoofs and breaking
brush. From the way the hounds bayed I knew they had struck a hot
scent. They worked down the slope, and assuredly gave me a wild ride
to keep within hearing of them. My horse grew excited, which fact
increased his pace, his obstinacy, and likewise my danger. Twice he
unseated me. I tore my coat, lost my hat, scratched my face, skinned
my knees, but somehow I managed to keep within hearing.
I came to a deep brush-choked gorge, impassable at that point. Luckily
the hounds turned here and started back my way. By riding along
the edge of this gorge I kept up with them. They climbed out an
intersecting ravine and up on the opposite side. I forced my horse to
go down this rather steep soft slope. At the bottom I saw a little
spring of water with fresh bear tracks around it, and one place where
the bear had caved in a soft bank. Here my horse suddenly plunged and
went to his knees in the yielding red clay. He snorted in fright. The
bank slid with him and I tumbled off. But nothing serious happened. I
ran down, caught him, mounted, and spurred him up the other side. Once
up he began to run. I heard the boys yelling not far away and the
hounds were baying up above me. They were climbing fast, working to
the left, toward an oak thicket. It took effort to slow down my steed.
He acted crazy and I began to suspect that he had caught a whiff of
the bear. Most horses are afraid of bears and lions. Sight of Edd and
George, who appeared in an open spot, somewhat quieted my mount.
"Trail's gettin' hot up there," declared Edd. "That bear's bedded
somewhere an' I'll bet the hounds jumped him. Listen to Old Tom!"
How the deep sonorous bay of Old Tom awoke the echoes under the
cliffs! And Old Dan's voice was a hoarse bellow. The other hounds
Edd blew a mellow blast from his hunting-horn, and that awoke other
and more melodious echoes. "There's father up on the rim," he said. I
looked, and finally saw Haught perched like a black eagle on a crag.
His gun flashed in the strong sunlight.
Somewhere up there the hounds jumped the bear. Anybody could have told
that. What a wild chorus! Edd and George answered to it with whoops
as wild, and they galloped their horses over ground and through brush
where they should have been walked. I followed, or tried to follow;
and here my steed showed his bull-headed, obstinate nature. If he had
been afraid but still game I would have respected him, but he was a
coward and mean. He wanted to have his way, which was to go the other
direction, and to rid himself of me. So we had it hot and heavy
along that rough slope, with honors about even. As for bruises and
scratches, however, I sustained the most. In the excitement of the
chase and anger at the horse I forgot all about any risks. This always
is the way in adventure. Hot racing blood governed me entirely.
Whenever I got out in an open place, where I could ride fast and hear
and see, then it was all intensely thrilling. Both hounds and comrades
were above me, but apparently working down.
Thus for me the necessity of hurry somewhat lessened. I slowed to a
trot, peering everywhere, listening with all my ears. I had stopped
yelling, because my horse had misunderstood that. We got into a
region of oak thickets, small saplings, scrubby, close together, but
beautiful with their autumn-tinted leaves. Next I rode through a maple
dell, shady, cool, where the leafy floor was all rose-pink-red. My
horse sent the colored leaves flying.
Soon, however, we got into the thickets again, low live-oak and
manzanita, which kind of brush my horse detested. I did not blame
him for that. As the hounds began to work down my keen excitement
increased. If they had jumped the bear and were chasing him down I
might run upon him any moment. This both appealed to me and caused me
apprehension. Suppose he were a bad cinnamon or a grizzly? What would
become of me on that horse? I decided that I had better carry my rifle
in my hand, so in case of a sudden appearance of the bear and I was
thrown or had a fall off, then I would be prepared. So forthwith I
drew the rifle out of the scabbard, remembering as I did so that
Haught had cautioned me, in case of close quarters with a bear and the
need of quick shooting, to jerk the lever down hard. If my horse had
cut up abominably before he now began to cover himself with a glory
of abominableness. I had to jam him through the thickets. He was an
uncomfortable horse to ride under the best circumstances; here he
was as bad as riding a picket-fence. When he got his head, which was
often, he carried me into thickets of manzanita that we could not
penetrate, and had to turn back. I found that I was working high
up the slope, and bad luck as I was having with my horse, I still
appeared to keep fairly close to the hounds.
When we topped a ridge of this slope the wind struck us strong in the
face. The baying of the hounds rang clear and full and fierce. My
horse stood straight up. Then he plunged back and bolted down the
slope. His mouth was like iron. I could neither hold nor turn him.
However perilous this ride I had to admit that at last my horse was
running beautifully. In fact he was running away! He had gotten a hot
scent of that bear. He hurdled rocks, leaped washes, slid down banks,
plunged over places that made my hair stand up stiff, and worst of all
he did not try to avoid brush or trees or cactus. Manzanita he tore
right through, leaving my coat in strips decorating our wake. I had to
hold on, to lie flat, to dodge and twist, and all the time watch for a
place where I might fall off in safety. But I did not get a chance
to fall off. A loud clamoring burst from the hounds apparently close
behind drove my horse frantic. Before he had only run--now he flew!
He left me hanging in the thick branches of a juniper, from which I
dropped blind and breathless and stunned. Disengaging myself from the
broken and hanging branches I staggered aside, rifle in hand, trying
to recover breath and wits.
Then, in that nerveless and shaken condition, I heard the breaking
of twigs and thud of soft steps right above me. Peering up with my
half-blinded eyes I saw a huge red furry animal coming, half obscured
by brush. It waved aside from his broad back. A shock ran over me--a
bursting gush of hot blood that turned to ice as it rushed. "Big
cinnamon bear!" I whispered, hoarsely.
Instinctively I cocked and leveled the rifle, and though I could not
clearly see the red animal bearing down the slope, such was my state
that I fired. Then followed a roaring crash--a terrible breaking
onslaught upon the brush--and the huge red mass seemed to flash down
toward me. I worked the lever of the rifle. But I had forgotten
Haught's caution. I did not work the lever far enough down, so that
the next cartridge jammed in the receiver. With a second shock,
different this time, I tried again. In vain! The terrible crashing
of brush appeared right upon me. For an instant that seemed an age I
stood riveted to the spot, my blood congealing, my heart choking me,
my tongue pasted to the roof of my mouth. Then I dropped the rifle
and whirled to plunge away. Like a deer I bounded. I took prodigious
bounds. To escape--to find a tree to leap into--that was my only
thought. A few rods down the slope--it seemed a mile--I reached a pine
with low branches. Like a squirrel I ran up this--straddled a limb
high up--and gazed back.
My sensations then were dominated by the relief of salvation. I became
conscious of them. Racing blood, bursting heart, labored pang of
chest, prickling, burning skin, a queer involuntary flutter of
muscles, like a palsy--these attested to the instinctive primitive
nature of my state. I heard the crashing of brush, the pound of soft
jumps over to my left. With eyes that seemed magnifying I gazed to see
a big red woolly steer plunge wildly down the slope and disappear. A
third shock possessed me--amaze. I had mistaken a wild, frightened
steer for a red cinnamon bear!
I sat there some moments straddling that branch. Then I descended, and
went back to the place I had dropped my rifle, and securing that I
stood a moment listening. The hounds had taken the chase around below
me into the gorge and were drawing away. It was useless to try to
follow them. I sat down again and gave myself up to meditation.
I tried to treat the situation as a huge joke, but that would not go.
No joke indeed! My horse had made me risk too much, my excitement had
been too intense, my fright had been too terrible. Reality for me
could not have been any more grave. I had risked my neck on a stubborn
coward of a horse, I had mistaken a steer for a bear, I had forgotten
how to manipulate the borrowed rifle. These were the careless elements
of tragedy. The thought sobered me. I took the lesson to heart. And I
reflected on the possible point of view of the bear. He had probably
gone to sleep on a full stomach of juniper berries and a big drink
of spring water. Rudely he had been routed out by a pack of yelping,
fiendish hounds. He had to run for his life. What had he done to
deserve such treatment? Possibly he might have killed some of Haught's
pigs, but most assuredly he had never harmed me. In my sober frame of
mind then I rather disapproved of my wholly unjustifiable murderous
intent. I would have deserved it if the steer had really been the
bear. Certainly I hoped the bear would outrun the hounds and escape. I
weighed the wonderful thrill of the chase, the melody of hounds, the
zest of spirited action, the peril to limb and life against the thing
that they were done for, with the result that I found them sadly
lacking. Peril to limb and life was good for man. If this had not been
a fact my performance would have been as cowardly as that of my
horse. Again I had rise up before my mind the spectacle of opposing
forces--the elemental in man restrained by the spiritual. Then the old
haunting thought returned to vex me--man in his development needed the
exercise of brawn, muscle, bone red-blood, violence, labor and pain
and agony. Nature recognized only the survival of the fittest of
any species. If a man allowed a spiritual development, intellect,
gentleness, to keep him from all hard, violent action, from tremendous
exertion, from fierce fight with elements and beasts, and his own
kind--would he not soon degenerate as a natural physical man?
Evolution was a stern inevitable seeking of nature for perfection,
for the unattainable. This perfection was something that lived and
improved on strife. Barbarians, Indians, savages were the most
perfect specimens of nature's handiwork; and in proportion to their
development toward so-called civilized life their physical prowess and
perfectness--that was to say, their strength to resist and live and
reproduce their kind--absolutely and inevitably deteriorated.
My reflection did not carry me at that time to any positive
convictions of what was truest and best. The only conclusions I
eventually arrived at were that I was sore and bruised and dirty and
torn--that I would be happy if the bear got away--that I had lost my
mean horse and was glad therefore--that I would have half a dozen
horses and rifles upon my next hunt--and lastly that I would not be in
any hurry to tell about mistaking a steer for a bear, and climbing a
tree. Indeed these last facts have been religiously kept secret until
Shortly afterward, as I was making a lame and slow headway toward
Horton Thicket, where I hoped to find a trail out, I heard Edd
yelling, and I answered. Presently we met. He was leading my horse,
and some of the hounds, notably Old Tom and Dan, were with him.
"Where's the bear?" I asked.
"He got away down in the breaks," replied Edd. "George is tryin' to
call the hounds back. What happened to you? I heard you shoot."
"My horse didn't care much for me or the brush," I replied. "He left
me--rather suddenly. And--I took a shot at what I thought was a bear."
"I seen him once," said Edd, with eyes flashing. "Was just goin' to
smoke him up when he jumped out of sight."
My mortification and apprehension were somewhat mitigated when I
observed that Edd was dirty, ragged, and almost as much disheveled as
I was. I had feared he would see in my appearance certain unmistakable
evidences that I had made a tenderfoot blunder and then run for
my life. But Edd took my loss of hat, and torn coat, and general
bedraggled state as a matter of course. Indeed I somehow felt a little
pride at his acceptance of me there in the flesh.
We rode around the end of this slope, gradually working down into
Horton Thicket, where a wild confusion of dense timber engaged my
sight. Presently George trotted up behind us with the other dogs. "We
lost him down on the hot dry ridges. Hounds couldn't track him," was
all George said. Thereupon Edd blew four blasts upon his hunting-horn,
which were signals to those on the stands above that the hunt was over
for the day.
Even in the jungle tropics I had never seen such dense shade as this
down in Horton Thicket. The timber grew close and large, and the
foliage was matted, letting little sunlight through. Dark, green and
brown, fragrant, cool thicket indeed it was. We came to a huge spruce
tree, the largest I ever saw--Edd said eight feet through at the base,
but he was conservative. It was a gnarled, bearded, gray, old monarch
of the forest, with bleached, dead top. For many years it had been the
home of swarms of wild honey bees. Edd said more than one bee-hunter
had undertaken to cut down this spruce. This explained a number of
deeply cut notches in the huge trunk. "I'll bet Nielsen could chop it
down," declared Edd. I admitted the compliment to our brawny Norwegian
axe-wielder, but added that I certainly would not let him do it,
whether we were to get any honey or not.
By and bye we reached the bottom of the thicket where we crossed a
swift clear cold brook. Here the smells seemed cool, sweet, wild with
spruce and pine. This stream of granite water burst from a spring
under a cliff. What a roar it made! I drank until I could drink no
more. Huge boulders and windfalls, moved by water at flood season,
obstructed the narrow stream-bed. We crossed to start climbing the
north slope, and soon worked up out of the thicket upon a steep, rocky
slope, with isolated pines. We struck a deer-trail hard to follow.
Above me loomed the pine-tipped rim, with its crags, cliffs,
pinnacles, and walls, all gray, seamed and stained, and in some clefts
blazes of deep red and yellow foliage.
When we surmounted the slope, and eventually reached camp, I found
Isbel entertaining strangers, men of rough garb, evidently riders of
the range. That was all right, but I did not like his prodigality with
our swiftly diminishing store of eatables.
To conclude about Isbel--matters pertaining to our commissary
department, during the next few days, went from bad to worse. Doyle
advised me not to take Isbel to task, and was rather evasive of
reasons for so advising me. Of course I listened and attended to my
old guide's advice, but I fretted under the restraint. We had a spell
of bad weather, wind and rain, and hail off and on, and at length, the
third day, a cold drizzling snow. During this spell we did but little
hunting. The weather changed, and the day afterward I rode my mean
horse twenty miles on a deer hunt. We saw one buck. Upon our arrival
at camp, about four o'clock, which hour was too early for dinner, I
was surprised and angered to find Isbel eating an elaborate meal with
three more strange, rough-appearing men. Doyle looked serious. Nielsen
had a sharp glint in his gray eye. As for myself, this procedure of
our cook's was more than I could stand.
"Isbel, you're discharged," I said, shortly. "Take your outfit and get
out. Lee will lend you a pack horse."
"Wal, I ain't fired," drawled Isbel. "I quit before you rode in. Beat
you to it!"
"Then if you quit it seems to me you are taking liberties with
supplies you have no right to," I replied.
"Nope. Cook of any outfit has a right to all the chuck he wants.
That's western way."
"Isbel, listen to this and then get out," I went on. "You've wasted
our supplies just to get us to hurry and break camp. As for western
ways I know something of them. It's a western way for a man to be
square and honest in his dealings with an outsider. In all my years
and in all my trips over the southwest you are the first westerner to
give me the double-cross. You have that distinction."
Then I turned my back upon him and walked to my tent. His
acquaintances left at once, and he quickly packed and followed.
Faithful old Doyle took up the duties of cook and we gained, rather
than missed by the change. Our supplies, however, had been so depleted
that we could not stay much longer on the hunt.
By dint of much determination as to the manner and method of my next
hunt I managed to persuade myself that I could make the best of this
unlucky sojourn in the woods. No rifle, no horse worth riding, no food
to stay out our time--it was indeed bad luck for me. After supper the
tension relaxed. Then I realized all the men were relieved. Only Romer
regretted loss of Isbel. When the Doyles and Haughts saw how I took
my hard luck they seemed all the keener to make my stay pleasant and
profitable. Little they knew that their regard was more to me than
material benefits and comforts of the trip. To travelers of the
desert and hunters and riders of the open there are always hard and
uncomfortable and painful situations to be met with. And in meeting
these, if it can be done with fortitude and spirit that win the
respect of westerners, it is indeed a reward.
Next day, in defiance of a thing which never should be
considered--luck--I took Haught's rifle again, and my lazy, sullen,
intractable horse, and rode with Edd and George down into Horton
Thicket. At least I could not be cheated out of fresh air and
We dismounted and tied our horses at the brook, and while Edd took
the hounds up into the dense thicket where the bears made their beds,
George and I followed a trail up the brook. In exactly ten minutes the
hounds gave tongue. They ran up the thicket, which was favorable for
us, and from their baying I judged the bear trail to be warm. In the
dense forest we could not see five rods ahead. George averred that he
did not care to have a big cinnamon or a grizzly come running down
that black thicket. And as for myself I did not want one so very
exceedingly much. I tried to keep from letting the hounds excite me,
which effort utterly failed. We kept even with the hounds until their
baying fell off, and finally grew desultory, and then ceased.
"Guess they had the wrong end of his trail," said George. With this
exasperating feature of bear and lion chases I was familiar. Most
hounds, when they struck a trail, could not tell in which direction
the bear was traveling. A really fine hound, however, like Buffalo
Jones' famous Don, or Scott Teague's Sampson or Haught's Old Dan,
would grow suspicious of a scent that gradually cooled, and would
eventually give it up. Young hounds would back-track game as far as
After waiting a while we returned to our horses, and presently Edd
came back with the pack. "Big bear, but cold trail. Called them off,"
was all he said. We mounted and rode across the mouth of Horton
Thicket round to the juniper slopes, which I had occasion to remember.
I even saw the pine tree which I had so ignominiously climbed. How we
ridicule and scorn some of our perfectly natural actions--afterwards!
Edd had brought three of the pups that day, two-year-olds as full of
mischief as pups could be. They jumped a bunch of deer and chased them
out on the hard red cedar covered ridges. We had a merry chase to head
them off. Edd gave them a tongue-lashing and thrashing at one and the
same time. I felt sorry for the pups. They had been so full of frolic
and fight. How crestfallen they appeared after Edd got through!
"Whaddaye mean," yelled Edd, in conclusion. "Chasin' deer!... Do you
think you're a lot of rabbit dogs?" From the way the pups eyed Edd
so sheepishly and adoringly, I made certain they understood him
perfectly, and humbly confessed their error.
Old Tom and Old Dan had not come down off the slopes with us after the
pups. And upon our return both the old hounds began to bay deep and
fast. With shrill ki-yi the pups bounded off, apparently frantic to
make up for misbehavior. Soon the whole pack was in full chorus.
Edd and George spurred into the brush, yelling encouragement to the
hounds. This day I managed to make my horse do a little of what I
wanted. To keep in sight of the Haught boys was indeed beyond me; but
I did not lose sound of them. This chase led us up slope and down
slope, through the brush and pine thickets, over bare ridges and into
gullies; and eventually out into the basin, where the hounds got
"One of them long, lean, hungry bears," remarked Edd. "He'd outrun any
Leisurely then we turned to the three-hour ride back to camp. Hot sun
in the open, cool wind in the shade, dry smells of the forest, green
and red and orange and purple of the foliage--these rendered the hours
pleasant for me. When I reached camp I found Romer in trouble. He had
cut his hand with a forbidden hunting knife. As he told me about it
his face was a study and his explanation was astounding. When he
finished I said: "You mean then that my hunting knife walked out of
its sheath on my belt and followed you around and cut you of its own
"Aw, I--I--it--" he floundered.
Whereupon I lectured him about forbidden things and untruthfulness.
His reply was: "But, Dad, it hurts like sixty. Won't you put somethin'
I dressed and bandaged the trifling cut for him, telling him the while
how little Indian boys, when cut or kicked or bruised, never showed
that they were hurt. "Huh!" he grunted. "Guess there's no Indian in
me.... I must take after mother!"
That afternoon and night the hounds straggled in, Old Tom and Dan
first, and then the others, one by one, fagged-out and foot-sore. Next
morning, however, they appeared none the worse for their long chase.
We went again to Horton Thicket to rout out a bear.
This time I remained on top of the rim with R.C. and Nielsen; and we
took up a stand across the canyon, near where my first stand had
been. Here we idled the hours away waiting for the hounds to start
something. While walking along the rim I happened to look across the
big cove that cut into the promontory, and way on the other slope what
did I espy but a black bear. He appeared to be very small, or merely a
cub. Running back to R.C. and Nielsen I told them, and we all took up
our rifles. It occurred to me that the distance across this cove was
too far for accurate shooting, but it never occurred to me to jump on
my horse and ride around the head of the cove.
"He's not scared. Let's watch him," suggested R.C.
[Illustration: WILD TURKEYS]
[Illustration: THE WHITE QUAKING ASPS]
We saw this bear walk along, poke around, dig into the ground, go behind
trees, come out again, and finally stand up on his hind feet and
apparently reach for berries or something on a bush. R.C. bethought
himself of his field-glass. After one look he exclaimed: "Say, fellows,
he's a whopper of a bear! He'll weigh five hundred pounds. Just take a
look at him!"
My turn with the glasses revealed to me that what I had imagined to be
a cub was indeed a big bear. After Nielsen looked he said: "Never saw
one so big in Norway."
"Well, look at that black scoundrel!" exclaimed R.C. "Standing up!
Looking around! Wagging his head!... Say, you saw him first. Suppose
you take some pegs at him."
"Wish Romer were here. I'd let him shoot at that bear," I replied.
Then I got down on my knee, and aiming as closely as possible I fired.
The report rang out in the stillness, making hollow echoes. We heard
the bullet pat somewhere. So did the bear hear it. Curiously he looked
around, as if something had struck near him. But scared he certainly
was not. Then I shot four times in quick succession.
"Well, I'll be darned!" ejaculated R.C. "He heard the bullets hit and
wonders what the dickens.... Say, now he hears the reports! Look at
"Boys, smoke him up," I said, after the manner of Haught's vernacular.
So while I reloaded R.C. and Nielsen began to shoot. We had more fun
out of it than the bear. Evidently he located us. Then he began to
run, choosing the open slope by which he had come. I got five more
shots at him as he crossed this space, and the last bullet puffed
up dust under him, making him take a header down the slope into
the thicket. Whereupon we all had a good laugh. Nielsen appeared
particularly pleased over his first shots at a real live bear.
"Say, why didn't you think to ride round there?" queried R.C.
thoughtfully. "He didn't see us. He wasn't scared. In a few minutes
you could have been on the rim of that slope right over him. Got him
"R.C. why didn't you think to tell me to do that?" I retorted. "Why
don't we ever think the right thing before it is too late?"
"That's our last chance this year--I feel it in my bones," declared
His premonition turned out to be correct. Upon our arrival at camp we
heard some very disquieting news. A neighbor of Haught's had taken the
trouble to ride up to inform us about the epidemic of influenza. The
strange disease was all over the country, in the cities, the villages,
the cow-camps, the mines--everywhere. At first I thought Haught's
informant was exaggerating a mere rumor. But when he told of the
Indians dying on the reservations, and that in Flagstaff eighty
people had succumbed in a few weeks--then I was thoroughly alarmed.
Imperative was it indeed for me to make a decision at once. I made it
instantly. We would break camp. So I told the men. Doyle was relieved
and glad. He wanted to get home to his family. The Haughts, naturally,
were sorry. My decision once arrived at, the next thing was to
consider which way to travel. The long ten-day trip down into the
basin, round by Payson, and up on the rim again, and so on to
Flagstaff was not to be considered at all. The roads by way of Winslow
and Holbrook were long and bad. Doyle wanted to attempt the old army
road along the rim made by General Crook when he moved the captured
Apaches to the reservation assigned to them. No travel over this road
for many years! Haught looked dubious, but finally said we could chop
our way through thickets, and haul the wagon empty up bad hills. The
matter of decision was left to me. Decisions of such nature were not
easy to make. The responsibility was great, but as the hunt had been
for me it seemed incumbent upon me to accept responsibility. What made
me hesitate at all was the fact that I had ridden five miles or more
along the old Crook road. I remembered. I told Lee and I told Nielsen
that we would find it tough going. Lee laughed like a cowboy: "We'll
go a-hummin'," he said. Nielsen shrugged his brawny shoulders. What
were obstacles to this man of the desert? I realized that his look had
"All right, men, we'll try the old Crook road," I said. "Pack what you
can up to the wagon to-day, and to-morrow early we'll break camp."
I walked with the Haughts from our camp across the brook to theirs,
where we sat down in the warm sunshine. I made light of this hunting
trip in which it had turned out I had no gun, no horse, no blankets,
no rain-proof tent, no adequate amount of food supplies, and no good
luck, except the wonderful good luck of being well, of seeing a
magnificent country, of meeting some more fine westerners. But the
Haughts appeared a little slow to grasp, or at least to credit my
philosophy. We were just beginning to get acquainted. Their regret was
that they had been unable to see me get a bear, a deer, a lion, and
some turkeys. Their conviction, perhaps formed from association with
many sportsman hunters, was that owing to my bad luck I could not and
would not want to come again.
"See here, Haught," I said. "I've had a fine time. Now forget about
this hunt. It's past. We'll plan another. Will you save next fall for
"I shore will," he replied.
"Very well, then, it's settled. Say by August you and the boys cut
a trail or two in and out of Horton Thicket. I'll send you money in
advance to pay for this work, and get new hounds and outfit. I'll